Monday, December 30, 2013

Under the Sea Mermaid 3rd Birthday Party

Audrey turned 3 on the 28th, but we had her party the week before, on the 21st. With all the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it was just easier to have her party before Christmas.

When I asked her, Audrey said she wanted a mermaid party! I loved the idea, so I ran with a mermaid/ under the sea theme! If you saw my posts about her first and second birthdays, you know I go a little theme crazy! But I do it because I want her to have a special day that is just about her and not about Christmas.

So the first thing I did was design the invitations and get them out in the mail!

For the decorations, I tried to make it feel like we were under water.
I hung curling ribbon from the light fixtures, fans and archway, and made paper lantern jellyfish!

Next, I did the table decor.
I twisted green streamers and taped them to the wall to look like seaweed. I also had pretty blue vases leftover from my sister's first baby shower that I put sparkly branches in. They were probably meant to be winter decor, but I thought they looked like sparkly seaweed. Then I put out strings of iridescent beads and some under the sea confetti.

You can also see the favors for the kids in the above collage. Everyone got their own under the sea activity placement and some ocean stickers. The girls also got pearl mermaid necklaces that I made and the boys got either a whale or a shark toy.

And of course there were balloons!
There were balloon bunches and a fishing net filled with balloons to try to cover up some of the Christmas decorations.

For the food, I stuck tight to the theme as well.

We had Veggies and Octo-dip, Goldfish, Seaweed (spinach) Dip with Crispy Seaweed (vegetable tortilla) Chips, Seashells & Cheese, and Submarine Sandwiches (tuna, egg and chicken salad).

And then, of course, there was dessert!!
I made Sand Dollar Sugar Cookies, as well as making and decorating the cake and cupcakes.

Overall, it was a really fun afternoon! I think all the kids had fun playing together and the cupcakes disappeared in the blink of an eye!
Audrey made a wish, opened lots of presents, and was then surprised with her new bike from Mommy and Daddy!

To give credit where credit is due:
I found the clip art for the invitation just by searching for free clipart on Google.
I found the paper lantern jellyfish tutorial on Party City's website.
A lot of my inspiration for both the food and decorations came from Pinterest.
I printed out the cake decorations and attached them to string and straws, but again, the mermaid was clipart I found searching on Google.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Audrey's 3rd Birthday Interview

So, Audrey turned three yesterday. She is growing and changing so quickly and as much as I try to record all the milestones, I feel like little things will and are slipping away. So I decided to start doing yearly birthday interviews. I write her letters, but that is my perspective. I asked Audrey 10 questions yesterday. I plan to ask her the same questions every year on her birthday and think it will be fun to look back on and compare. So without further ado, here is her interview.

Audrey Ann-Marie
3 years old
December 28, 2013

1) What is your favorite color? Purple
2) What is your favorite food? Tacos (She is referring to Mommy's turkey tacos.)
3) What do you want to be when you grow up? An artist
4) Who is your best friend? Mommy!
5) What is your favorite book? Pete the Cat
6) What is your favorite movie? Rapunzel (Tangled)
7) What are you really good at? Singing
8) What is your favorite thing to do? Yoga with Mommy
9) What is your favorite dessert? Chocolate-cake-ice cream-candy (This sounded like all one word when she said it.)
10) What makes you the happiest? Dancing, and reading, and hugging and kissing, and Mommy and Daddy and my whole family!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Audrey - 3 years


You are officially three today! With you, every day is an adventure, and this past year has certainly been full of excitement!

We started off the year with potty training and you exceeded our expectations with your willingness and ability to quickly adapt.

You transitioned from a crib, to a toddler bed, and then quickly to a queen size bed and FINALLY started sleeping through the night (for the most part!)

We visited art galleries and made plenty of our own art!

And we, of course, had our share of photo shoots!

We played in the sunshine, in the sand, in the rain, in the leaves, and in the snow.

You had your first pedicure and made lots of wishes.

You started pre-school and you're having so much fun learning and making new friends.

You gave up officially napping, but often fall asleep right in the middle of your very busy life. And we're done with binkies for good!

You love tacos, carrots, lining things up, singing, dancing, your stuffed panda Tinky, nutcrackers, babies, helping Mommy sew, reading, puppets, playing dress up, and chocolate, just to name a few. You are full of fire and passion and determination. You have a strong will, know what you want and when you want it. But you love your family and Jesus and you are polite and kind to others.

I can't believe you're three, baby! You challenge me and surprise me and fill me heart with joy every single day. You are my wildest dream come true. And though you test me and frustrate me and challenge me more than ever, I continue to learn and grow in your presence.

I love you more than I could ever say in words, sweet girl!

Love Always,

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas!
From our family to yours!

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Snowman Smiles

Just wanted to share our Christmas card with all of you! Snowman smiles coming your way!

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Parenting Confessions

A couple months ago, a friend of mine posted some parenting confessions on Facebook. She is an awesomesauce, kicka$$, single mom and person in general. I hold her in the highest regard, but it was refreshing to see her admit her weaknesses. It actually makes me admire her more.

Audrey is less than 2 months away from turning 3, and we're already in the 3 year old stage. When people told me 3 was harder than 2, I didn't believe them. Now, I'm a believer. Let's just say that for me this is far from the most enjoyable age we've experienced as of yet. After a difficult few days, I'm feeling like some parenting confessions might cleanse my soul a little bit. So here goes!

Parenting confessions:

  • I let my daughter watch way more television than I ever thought I would. 
  • I am the perfect reflection of calm, cool and collective parenting when we are out in public; however, when we're home and the defiance and screaming seems to never cease no matter what I do or say, I yell. Sometimes I yell a lot. 
  • I am much less patient than I ever thought I was. 
  • I care too much about what other people think of me as a mom. Sometimes I find myself judging myself like someone else might be judging me, even if they aren't saying anything to me at all. 
  • I cried the first day I left her at preschool, but I actually find it a relief to have a couple hours to myself when I drop her off now. 
  • I temporarily hide books and movies we've read and watched 7 gazillion times because I think I will become certifiably insane if I have to endure them again. 
  • I have laughed at how adorable my daughter is, even when she is in tears from the photo shoot I'm putting her through.
  • I spend so much time planning activities and events and trying to make them perfect and memorable that I sometimes forget to let it all go and just have fun with her. She will remember and appreciate my words and hugs and doing things with her, more than the perfectly planned birthday party or the photo books I tell myself I'm doing for her.

Phew! That was cleansing! I will not let my weaknesses make me feel bad about myself though. I make my daughter's Halloween costumes from scratch and plan elaborate Pinterest inspired birthday parties. I photograph every moment possible. I cook wholesome, healthy homemade meals and snacks. I'm a stay-home-mom. These are my strengths, but I am not "Super Mom." I don't think I am and I don't try to be. She doesn't exist.

I don't judge you if you buy your child's Halloween costume at Walmart, throw together a birthday party last minute, choose to be in the moment instead of photographing it, order take-out every night or work 40 hours a week. {Are you judging yourself? I know I sure do.} I admire you. For the things that are your strengths, are my weaknesses. I admire your ability to let go of the illusion of perfection, to enjoy the moment and be spontaneous, your courage to entrust your child's care to someone else in order to pursue your dreams, your ability to read that book for the 8 gazillionth time!

We all have strengths and weaknesses. The sooner we admit them to ourselves, the sooner we will stop judging ourselves and others, and accept that different doesn't mean bad. I still have a journey ahead of me in that department I think. But today's confessions felt like a good start.

So...does anyone else out there care to cleanse their parenting soul and admit your weaknesses??

Friday, November 1, 2013

Happy Halloween!

I was never really into Halloween growing up. I was much too serious a child! But something about having a child of my own got me excited about it. Audrey is at the stage now where she loves to pretend, so we've been looking forward to Halloween for months. Unfortunately, it was raining and miserable out, but we got our umbrella and braved the weather to still have a great time!

One of Audrey's favorite things to play outside is Little Red Riding Hood. So it was pretty obvious what this year's costume was going to be when I asked her!

I made her costume myself. The pattern for the hooded cape came from Fleece Fun. This was my most difficult sewing project to date and I was a little nervous. Usually my projects involve me winging it and coming up with something on my own, not using an actual pattern. I've never sewed with fleece before and lining the hood was a little bit tricky, but it wasn't as hard as I was expecting it to be and I was thrilled with how it came out.

The tutu I made just like all the other tutus I make her and with the apron I stuck to my typical sewing style and winged it. I used the same fabric for the apron as I used to line the inside of the hood and it really brought everything together.

Add a white shirt, tights and socks, cute shoes, and a little basket, and the costume was too adorable for words!

The best part of playing Little Red Riding Hood is the interaction. So I, of course, had to make this a family theme. Daddy fit the part of the Big Bad Wolf perfectly! So I made him a quick and easy wolf costume that he was comfortable wearing around and not taking too much attention away from Audrey.

And to pull it all together, I had to be Grandma obviously!

We had so much fun despite the rain! We knocked on a few doors, got a little candy, visited some family, and sat by a fire to warm up and dry off.

As soon as we walked in the door at 7:15 pm, the costume came off and Audrey said, "Mommy, I'm ready to go up to bed now." So that was that for this year! And now the planning for next year will have to begin because it is going to take some work to top this year!

Thursday, October 31, 2013

The Invitation

I went to a yoga class yesterday and at the end of savasana, the instructor read The Invitation by Oriah. I was really inspired by it and have been reading it over and over, thinking and processing. I just had to share it because I think it is so beautiful and gives us all something to think about.

It doesn't interest me
what you do for a living.
I want to know
what you ache for
and if you dare to dream
of meeting your heart’s longing.

It doesn't interest me
how old you are.
I want to know
if you will risk
looking like a fool
for love
for your dream
for the adventure of being alive.

It doesn't interest me
what planets are
squaring your moon...
I want to know
if you have touched
the center of your own sorrow
if you have been opened
by life’s betrayals
or have become shriveled and closed
from fear of further pain.

I want to know
if you can sit with pain,
mine or your own,
without moving to hide it
or fade it
or fix it.

I want to know
if you can be with joy,
mine or your own,
if you can dance with wildness
and let the ecstasy fill you
to the tips of your fingers and toes
without cautioning us
to be careful
to be realistic
to remember the limitations
of being human.

It doesn't interest me
if the story you are telling me
is true.
I want to know if you can
disappoint another
to be true to yourself.
If you can bear
the accusation of betrayal
and not betray your own soul.
If you can be faithless
and therefore trustworthy.

I want to know if you can see beauty
even when it is not pretty
every day.
And if you can source your own life
from its presence.

I want to know
if you can live with failure,
yours and mine,
and still stand at the edge of the lake
and shout to the silver of the full moon,

It doesn't interest me
to know where you live
or how much money you have.
I want to know if you can get up
after the night of grief and despair
weary and bruised to the bone
and do what needs to be done
to feed the children.

It doesn't interest me
who you know
or how you came to be here.
I want to know if you will stand
in the center of the fire
with me
and not shrink back.

It doesn't interest me
where or what or with whom
you have studied.
I want to know
what sustains you
from the inside
when all else falls away.

I want to know
if you can be alone
with yourself
and if you truly like
the company you keep
in the empty moments.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Audrey - 34 months


You are growing leaps and bounds and it is hard to know where to begin! You started school at the beginning of September and adjusted like it was nothing. You love your teachers and your classmates and you are learning so much! After only six days of school you already had the pledge of allegiance memorized! You fell off the jungle gym at school a couple weeks ago and dislocated your elbow. It is the first time you've gotten hurt without me there and you looked so sad when I picked you up. But the next school day you were ready to go back and not afraid at all.

Since starting school, you've basically decided that you don't need to nap anymore. This has been a struggle between us because Mommy knows you still need the sleep. Some nights dinner and bath time is a nightmare because you're just so overtired. But I'm trying not to push the issue because I can't deal with you screaming for an hour every afternoon until I let you out of your room.

Fall is in the air now and we've done lots of playing in the leaves and rolling down the hill! We took a ride up to the top of Mt. Greylock, went apple and pumpkin picking, went to the annual fall foliage parade, went through a corn maze and on a hay ride, even went to a hot air balloon festival.

We just got back from a weekend trip to Titi's house and you had so much fun with your cousins. You miss them so much and I wish you could see them more often. Skype is an amazing gift to us though and I'm grateful we have that at least.

As we approach your 3rd birthday, your defiance grows. You are strong-willed and full of fire and energy. I try to reign that in enough that I teach you to respect others, but not so much that you submit to any and everything others tell you. This is certainly a struggle for me and I hope I do you justice in my parenting. I know that in your teen years and as you approach adulthood, it may be frustrating for me, but that I will be grateful for your desire to forge your own path. I hope to cultivate in you the desire to think and form your own opinions, to respect authority, but to test it when appropriate.

Your love of reading continues to grow. You have 3 different children's bibles and you love to have them read to you. You open a book and tell your own crazy, rambling stories that are so fun to listen to, and you like to sing in conversation instead of talking.

You are a ray of sunshine when you want to be and a force to be reckoned with! Your are smart, thoughtful, clever and full of life! Mommy loves you with all of her heart, and watching you grow makes me incredibly proud.

I love you "big much," my sweet girl!

Love always,